Review by Dom Vigil
Bodacious is the more refined and polished follow-up to Purple’s 2014 release, (409), but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still have that raw, wild quality that made the band’s debut full-length a total standout. Purple are back and haven’t lost any of the energy, angst or grittiness that made (409) such a hit, and this time around, they’re expanding much more on their sound. Like vocalist/drummer Hanna Brewer says on the album’s opening track, Purple’s edges are still rough, and that’s just how we like them.
Though “Backbone” sounds very similar to the wild Purple that listeners know and love, the sound is groovy and even a little poppy, with soft vocals in between Brewer’s wild half-screams. “Backbone” really sets the tone for the rest of the album, lyrically, vocally and even musically. As it turns out, Bodacious is even more diverse than you could expect.
Following “Backbone” is “Mini Van,” which has that same groovy feeling, carried by guitar work that at times sounds inspired by Rage Against The Machine. However vocally, “Mini Van” seems to draw influence from all over the map, meshing many different sounds in the best way possible. Taylor Busby’s vocal work really shines on this track - think Red Hot Chili Peppers - while Brewer offers gritty vocals that sound similar to No Doubt. It’s the perfect blend of sound that somehow remains uniquely Purple. And while “Mini Van” may be more wild and unpredictable, the following track “Bliss” is a glimpse of the softer side of the trio. With “Bliss,” it becomes more obvious than ever that Purple aren’t trying to be anything - there isn’t a method to their madness, and that’s quite possibly the best part about Bodacious. A soft song like “Bliss” can follow a chaotic song like “Mini Van” and come before a more groovy, poppy song like “Money,” and it just works.
The album’s title track hosts some of the same grooviness that the first few songs have, and at this point (nearly halfway through Bodacious) it becomes apparent that this sound is a driving force behind the album. Heavily guitar and bass driven and full of catchy vocal runs and smart lyricism, “Bodacious” just makes sense. Following the title track is “Pretty Mouth,” a perfect example of the excellent diversity on the album, with a sound that verges on reggae and continues to catch listeners by surprise. Brewer’s vocals on this track are stunning, and it’s simply a testament to her vocal abilities when she can transition from raw, gritty and explosive runs to softer songs like “Pretty Mouth” in the blink of an eye.
Other strong tracks that come toward the end of Bodacious are the poppy and fun “Birthday” and “She Know Me,” which gives us a glimpse into the fuller, more indie rock side of Purple. “She Know Me” is another surprising track, poppy and catchy but still with a little hint of grit that makes it work well with the other tracks. “Love Maker” then brings in the end of the album with simplistic guitar and drum, spearheaded by commanding vocals and that gritty, groovy energy that one expects from Purple. Then “What A Job” just keeps listeners guessing, throwing one more diverse, hip-hop influenced track at us before the end.
Purple throw their inhibitions to the wind with Bodacious, but never once lose sight of just who they are. Even in the final track on the album, which sounds vastly different from their older material, they’re still sure to shout out their area code (and title of their last album). Purple have managed to grow with Bodacious, expanding on their sound without losing any of the wild, free-spirited sound from (409), and that’s really all we could ask of them.
Listen to "Mini Van"
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